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Food Bank of CNY Experiencing A Second Surge of Emergency Food Orders

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John Smith / WAER News
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Food Bank of CNY is experiencing another surge of individuals and families who need assistance through its emergency Food Network.  That means longer hours and also because staff and volunteers have to socially distance.  We stopped by last week for a warehouse tour.  Lyn Hy provided me a tour of the warehouse.  Upon entering she points out a small group of volunteers packing food.  In normal times… it’s typically between 12 to 15 people.

“Boxes of food that will go out later today.  Actually, we packed them last evening from 5 to 7 p.m., so we can socially distance our staff and our volunteers.  These 3 gentleman, they’re working on donated food products.  So, food that came in from grocery stores and food drives... lots of food drives coming in lately.  So, they’re sorting and boxing it up.  And then bread that’s been donated from local bakers.  We partner with about 100 different retail locations in our 11 counties.  It’s items that haven’t quite expired, yet… but, they’re getting near that date.  And then the items that when a shopper goes in, they’re probably ignoring and they’re not going to purchase.”   

In the absence of schools open 5 days a week, that means families are having difficulty providing additional meals for their children.

“They might be ordering extra cereal from us or extra fruits and vegetables, so their kids have those items at home.”

Driver’s arrive at the warehouse bright and early every morning for a quick loading of food shipments and leave around 7:15 a.m. to make deliveries.  Hy points out the organization also must purchase food.

“I was just talking about how we need to get children breakfast because they might not be accessing those meals at school every day because they’re not in the classroom.  So, here are some quick oates that we’re going to get out into the community, and we’ve purchased these ones.”  

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Credit John Smith / WAER News
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A forklift being operated by Rick Huling hoists a shipment of food to hold it temporarily before it's processed for shipment to any one of 11 counties.

Hy tells me about volunteers that packed non-perishable items the night before for Café Sankofa on the city’s South Side.  She encourages people anyone to call them in need, even if they’ve never called before.

“Is there a mobile food pantry that’s happening in your area?  Is there a fresh foods program?  Is there food sense, which is a Food Bank buying club program… are any of these available, as well, to that person?  Then, we’re also going to find out, are you receiving SNAP benefits?  Because if you weren’t eligible before but, if you have furloughs or lost your job, your income may make you eligible to receive SNAP benefits and we have people right here on our staff that can help guide people through accessing SNAP benefits that will help get them through that hard time.”

It takes a large team behind the scenes to receive, and neatly organize shipments in the warehouse.  Rick Huling is in charge of accepting all food product deliveries at the warehouse.

“It’s been tough but, everybody’s working together… we’re doing pretty good at it, I think.  We receive between 6 to 8 trucks a day, probably.  A little bit of everything, lot of USDA.”

Thanks to continued donations, the organization is able to offer a vast selection.  Helping individuals and one family at time, during a pandemic and this holiday season.  To find out where you can get food go to FoodBankCNY.org or call (315) 437-1899.